Cats embody a unique combination of laziness and hyperactivity, giving them a metabolism most humans would envy. They balance long periods of snoozing with short bursts of energy and usually keep themselves pretty fit. There are exceptions of course, causing the literal fat cat most personified by the well-known Garfield.
Saying all cats should weigh X amount is like saying all cars should get X miles to the gallon. Certain factors affect a cat's ideal weight, including whether they're spayed or neutered, their breed and their overall health. On average, a healthy weight for a cat varies from as low as 5 pounds for a Siamese, to as high as 25 pounds for a Maine Coon. Indoor cats can pack on a few more pounds than their outdoor counterparts, because it doesn't take much cunning or athletic dexterity to sneak up on their food dishes. And your comfy couch makes it difficult to justify getting up and doing much of anything if he doesn't need to.
Most pet cats spend their day lounging on the couch, in a sunbeam or on your bed and only venture from their comfy spot to grab a snack or hit the litter box. Oh, to have it as hard as your cat! But this life of leisure can have a detrimental effect on your furry friend's weight, and soon you may have yourself a cat who is more fat than fit. The Association for Pet Obesity Prevention estimates that 54 percent of all cats in the United States are overweight or obese, which amounts to somewhere in the vicinity of 50 million. If you look down at your pet and cannot see a discernible waist, or cannot slightly feel his ribs when you rub your hands down his sides, your cat's too heavy.
Excess fat on a cat can admittedly make for some amusing sights when he rolls as he lays down or struggles to clean those hard-to-reach areas while grooming, but the truth is that a fat cat is a sick cat. Like humans, cats suffer from health risks due to excess weight, including high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney problems. Just because your kitty can't tell you he's not feeling well doesn't mean he isn't. Visit your veterinarian to have your tubby tabby checked to catch any health issues before they advance to a point of no return.
Slimming down your roly-poly cat takes willpower and dedication — yours, not his. Odds are, he's not going to like the changes necessary to drop those extra pounds, and will let you know very loudly. Discuss your cat's health and diet with your veterinarian and develop a plan to adjust his food to provide just the calories he needs each day and no more. Increase his exercise by playing with him more often, or giving him an incentive to walk or climb regularly, like placing his food dish on a counter or sprinkling some catnip on the top of a cat tower. Make him work for things, but be careful you don't change too much too quickly or he may retaliate by clawing or peeing inappropriately.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Jane Williams began her writing career in 2000 as the writer and editor of a nationwide marketing company. Her articles have appeared on various websites. Williams briefly attended college for a degree in administration before embarking on her writing career.